President Biden on Thursday signed a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the police forces that battled Capitol rioters on Jan. 6 — while bizarrely comparing the officers to student athletes who fight off crowds that “jump” them at rival high schools.
Biden called the frenzied crowd of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters “extremists and terrorists” and said that “we cannot allow history to be rewritten.”
But the president also attempted to hail the officers for their bravery with a surprising comparison to what he said was the type of people he knew from his hometowns in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Claymont, Delaware.
“All kidding aside, I got to know you,” Biden said to officers in attendance at the White House Rose Garden event.
“You’re the same ones after a ballgame in a visiting field who come walking out of the gym after you won and you may get jumped by the other team or their supporters. You may be all by yourself, the only one standing there, when you watch six people jump one of our teammates. What the hell would you do? You’d jump in, you’d jump in, knowing you’re gonna have the hell beat out of you, too.”
Concluding the head-turning analogy, Biden said, “A police officer is not what you do, it’s who you are.”
The bill signed by Biden awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the US Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police Department for fighting off Trump supporters who smashed into the Capitol and disrupted certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
A Senate version of the legislation would have given a Congressional Gold Medal specifically to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led the first wave of pro-Trump rioters away from an unsecured Senate door. The rioters later broke into the Senate chamber — at least two of them armed with plastic handcuffs.
The Senate unanimously voted in February to give Goodman the award after an emotional day of proceedings during Trump’s impeachment trial for allegedly inciting the riot. But Congress ultimately went with a version pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that did not give the award to any specific officer.
In the Rose Garden, Biden acknowledged the death of US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a stroke after battling the mob, and the deaths by suicide of several officers who were at the Capitol that day.
At one point in his remarks, Biden appeared to wipe tears from his eyes.
“My fellow Americans, let’s remember what this was all about. It was a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American people, to seek power at all costs, to replace the ballot with brute force,” he said.
“It breaks my heart. It breaks the heart of the nation to remember that you were assaulted by thousands of violent insurrectionists at the Capitol of the United States of America,” Biden said.
“The fallen in my view are casualties in a struggle for the soul of America. A struggle that they didn’t start, a struggle we didn’t seek and a struggle that by the grace of God we will win.”
Biden said that Democrats and Republicans should work together “to restore decency, honor and respect for our system of government.”
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